All Blacks legend Andy Haden has died at the age of 69 after a near two-decade battle with cancer.

An often controversial figure, Haden, who played 41 tests and another 76 games for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1985, told the Herald in 2003 he had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and was undergoing treatment.

He was recently sent home from hospital for palliative care after suffering a health setback, and passed away this morning.

Andy Haden breaks clear for Auckland against Wellington on 9 September 1972. Photo / NZ Herald
Andy Haden breaks clear for Auckland against Wellington on 9 September 1972. Photo / NZ Herald

Born on 26 October 1950, life in the All Blacks for Haden began at the age of 22 in a small New York Stadium and finished in Buenos Aires.

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It was a globetrotting theme which followed Haden throughout his career as he married his sporting skills and business acumen to challenge opponents and confront administrators who ran the game.

Andy Haden in action during the All Blacks Tour of Britain, 1978. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden in action during the All Blacks Tour of Britain, 1978. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden celebrates Auckland winning the Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Andy Haden celebrates Auckland winning the Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Albert Anderson leaps high to spoil Andy Haden's two-handed take during the Ranfurly Shield challenge between Auckland and Canterbury in September 1983. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Albert Anderson leaps high to spoil Andy Haden's two-handed take during the Ranfurly Shield challenge between Auckland and Canterbury in September 1983. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Initially Haden set out to be a vet but when he moved out of rural Wanganui to Auckland he swapped to geology studies which fitted around his blossoming rugby life.

Haden's All Black career was in two parts, a beginning in 1972 with no great uptake until he made his test debut five years later. He listened to eight All Black coaches in his 14-year stint and at the start, was not convinced his calling would be in international rugby.

The environment changed as players gained more input into the sort of dynamic discussions Haden sees with the current All Black group.

All Black lock Andy Haden bursts through the tackle of Wallaby Peter Lucas in New Zealand's 33-18 win at Eden park on 11 September 1982. Photo / Ross Land
All Black lock Andy Haden bursts through the tackle of Wallaby Peter Lucas in New Zealand's 33-18 win at Eden park on 11 September 1982. Photo / Ross Land
Graham Mourie has hooker Peter Wheeler by the jersey, as Andy Haden looks on during the 1977 Lions tour to New Zealand. Photo / NZ Herald
Graham Mourie has hooker Peter Wheeler by the jersey, as Andy Haden looks on during the 1977 Lions tour to New Zealand. Photo / NZ Herald
Wallaby no 8 Greg Cornelsen competes with All Black lock Andy Haden at a lineout in the third test at Eden Park in 1978.
Wallaby no 8 Greg Cornelsen competes with All Black lock Andy Haden at a lineout in the third test at Eden Park in 1978.

Controversy shadowed Haden since the 1978 test against Wales in Cardiff when he dived out of the lineout and gained a penalty for Brian McKechnie to kick the winning goal.

Haden was centre stage once more in the dramatic home series with the Springboks in 1981.

All Blacks and Springbok players in a brawl during the first test at Lancaster Park, Christchurch on August 15, 1981. Photo / NZPA, Peter Bush
All Blacks and Springbok players in a brawl during the first test at Lancaster Park, Christchurch on August 15, 1981. Photo / NZPA, Peter Bush
Andy Haden pictured in 1991. Photo / Supplied
Andy Haden pictured in 1991. Photo / Supplied
Andy Haden charges with the ball during the All Blacks tour of South Africa in 1981. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden charges with the ball during the All Blacks tour of South Africa in 1981. Photo / Photosport

Haden's management career ran parallel with the All Blacks as he traversed the globe. At one stage the agent provocateur worked for three years as a marketing agent for the rugby union.

Haden played in a NZ Parliamentary XV vs NZ Musicians XV at Eden Park in 2002. Photo / Photosport
Haden played in a NZ Parliamentary XV vs NZ Musicians XV at Eden Park in 2002. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden during an All Black training session in Takapuna in 2001. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden during an All Black training session in Takapuna in 2001. Photo / Photosport
Former All Black Andy Haden and his wife Trecha at home shortly after comments he made in 2010. Photo / Doug Sherring
Former All Black Andy Haden and his wife Trecha at home shortly after comments he made in 2010. Photo / Doug Sherring

However his temperament was better suited to making others think rather than sitting in committee rooms.

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He was an agent for a number of celebrities - including Hollywood star Rachel Hunter - and resigned from the honorary position of Rugby World Cup ambassador in 2010 after a series of controversial statements - referring to Polynesian players as "darkies" and later suggesting women who target sport stars and end up being raped are partly to blame.

Rachel Hunter talks to Andy Haden in 2007. Photo / NZPA
Rachel Hunter talks to Andy Haden in 2007. Photo / NZPA
Former All Blacks Alan Whetton and Andy Haden stretch out in business class on the Qantas Airbus A380 on its first visit to New Zealand in 2008. Photo / NZPA
Former All Blacks Alan Whetton and Andy Haden stretch out in business class on the Qantas Airbus A380 on its first visit to New Zealand in 2008. Photo / NZPA

Haden died on Wednesday morning in Auckland. He was 69.